Repeat after me.
If someone believes something to be true, no matter how false it is, it might as well be true.
Now for something broader.
If culture believes something to be true, no matter how false it is, it might as well be true.
This is the secret of life. Well, okay, maybe just the secret of people.
The other day I was chatting with someone, admittedly someone of the older demographic, and on three separate instances she mentioned something I thought was questionable. So, just to clear the air, don’t worry:
It’s not legal for babies in New York to be shot in the heart.
America is not trying to adopt a rainbow flag.
Nobody is proposing legislation that bans using the terms “husband” and “wife.”
They’re not removing 65 verses from the NIV Bible.
But I’ve come to the understanding that it’s not really the point if any of these outlandish claims are true. The point is whether or not people believe these are true. Having seen these multiple pieces of misinformation spread over the internet by so many people lately, some people are obviously taking these claims with authenticity.
It honestly takes a lot of time and energy to fact check everything, and so many people would prefer their information to be presented to them in a reputable and trustworthy form. I’m not blaming anyone for this, because mental processing really is a lot of work. People have better things to do, like make money and care for their family.
For the longest time, I thought that everyone sought out truth and tried to avoid the lies. I mean, if there’s no actual threat of a new deadly spider invading your home and endangering your children, why should you believe there is one? While that makes logical sense, what I’ve found lately is that it’s not about truth. It’s about one of three things depending on a person’s nature.
Personality Type 1: I like believing I can find the real, manifestable truth about everything.
Personality Type 2: I like believing stuff that makes my life more interesting.
Personality Type 3: I like believing stuff that fits my paradigm.
I was born with Personality Type 1, and for most of my life I assumed everyone else lived the same way. But that was a mistake on my part, because simple observation of other’s beliefs reveal they believe some pretty gullible stuff. The problem is this can make you a bit of a social kill sometimes. Sorry. I’ll try to do better.
For example, people of Personality Type 2 are prone to believing in the new deadly spider because, let’s be honest, life can sometimes be pretty boring and repetitive. The good news is you’re pretty fun at parties, so there’s that!
But it’s Personality Type 3 that has asserted themselves the most. They have a specific set of observations about the world and will fight tooth and nail to fit world events in those observations. So when an issue like gay marriage or the confederate flag controversy come us, they’re prone to believe a collapse of American values is imminent. The problem is this can make you extremely gullible to the latest lie.
Most of us channel at least a little bit of this personality type, which is a problem. It means society isn’t based on what’s true but instead based on what enough people believe to be true. Often, these two abstracts can end up being worlds apart. Maybe society constructs itself not based on reality but on the most accessible beliefs about reality. Maybe it’s not about truth, maybe it’s about the idea of truth.